What is Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine?

Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine are ancient medical traditions rooted in the spiritual traditions of Vedic India and ancient Tibet, respectively. Ayurveda has its philosophical roots in the Samkhya school of Hinduism, while Tibetan Medicine has its philosophical roots in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibet. Although rooted in different spiritual traditions, both systems of medicine arose concurrently and share the same understanding of anatomy & physiology, pathology, diagnosis, and treatment. 

According to Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine, the physical world is composed of five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These five elements comprise everything visible in the universe. In the subtle energetic dimension, the five elements are present in the form of colored lights, which the Tibetans refer to as the "five pure lights". Our bodies are composed of the same material (physical and energetic) as the world around us. Therefore, living in harmony with the laws of nature allows the body, mind, and spirit to exist in a state of balance and well-being. 

The five elements flow in our body, governing our physiology at every level: from circulation to metabolism to structure. The flow of the five elements in the human physiology is what Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine describe as doshas (Tib: nyepa). Thus, the ancient medical systems assert that when the doṣas are balanced, there is health. When the doṣas are in a state of excess, the physiology goes out of balance, and the seeds of disease are planted. 

The flow of the doshas in the human body is nothing more than a sophisticated description for the flow of life-energy, or prana (Tib: rlung). At the gross physical level, life-energy can be described in terms of the five elements. However, most fundamentally, the five elements--and their collective functioning in the form of the three doshas--are nothing more than the flow of life-energy, the fundamental light and substance in which everything is arising. By maintaining the proper flow of life-energy in our bodies, we resonate with the fundamental vibration that lives and breathes us. Health is not a goal or an achievement. Health is the natural state of the body, mind, and spirit when it is allowed to live in harmony with the intrinsic unity of existence.